NFL Tackle and Hometown Hero Hosts First Annual Football Camp in Madison

Jack Driscoll practices with young boys and girls in his first annual football camp in Madison (CT Examiner)


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MADISON — About 250 boys and girls took the field on Wednesday afternoon to practice football with a local sports legend and NFL offensive lineman.

Jack Driscoll, who signed in March to play tackle and guard for the Miami Dolphins, put his hands in the turf at Strong Field, where years ago he took his first steps as a football player. Leaning his 312-pound frame forward, Driscoll looked to his fellow linemen — boys and girls eight to 13 years old. When the coach gave the signal, he took a half-step forward and the young players imitated him as if they were learning choreography.

It’s the first meetup for his football camp. Driscoll said it was his way of giving back to his hometown.

“I’ve been in that little seat before. I grew up in this town. A lot of people supported me — coaches, players, teachers,” Driscoll said. “I hope these kids learn a little bit and enjoy the different positions. If a kid learns one thing, I’ll know what my job was done.”

About 250 boys and girls took the field on Wednesday afternoon to practice football with a local sports legend and NFL offensive lineman (CT Examiner)

Driscoll started playing football when he was about the same age as these young people, when he was 10 or 12.

“I have played for as long as I can remember,” he said.

Now 15 or 17 years later, his name is one of five carved into stone on the “champion’s wall” at Strong Field. The names include all the professional players since 1981 who started their careers with the Daniel Hand Tigers, the local high school team.

Driscoll acknowledged that long-term brain injuries are a concern with the sport, something he said the NFL is working to improve.

“The NFL has done a great job with helmet companies, making much for protecting players,” he said. “But football is a violent sport, no two ways about it. And it’s played by tough people. At the end of the day, you kind of know what you are signing up for. You are going to put your body on the line.”

A 2023 Boston University study found that 92 percent of former NFL players analyzed suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, after examining post-mortem 376 NFL players’ brains.

(CT Examiner)

At the camp, however, the message was not about the sport’s risks but about motivation to succeed in life.

Opening remarks before the camp began came from Erik Becker, football coach on Daniel Hand High School’s team.

“I ask you to choose to be elite,” Becker said. “That means the best version of yourselves.”

Becker pointed out the 14 flags representing all the team championships. And he recounted Driscoll’s career so far, as an athlete drafted in the 4th round by the Philadelphia Eagles, and academically through his undergraduate and graduate studies.

(CT Examiner)

Larry Ciotti, a longtime Yale football coach, offered encouragement and engaged attendees in a question-and-answer game, with prizes, including cash.

“Knowledge will get you money,” Ciotti said. “Jack is a great player, but he also got a master’s degree.”

The boys trained without helmets or pads in drills that included running and throwing the ball. Parents watched the children from the stands.

(CT Examiner)

John Kolesar was one of them, watching his nine-year-old son train. He also attended Daniel Hand High School and played football as an offensive lineman, the same position his son has taken up.

“It’s just fun having the kids out here chasing after him, just get out for an afternoon,” Kolesar said. “[Driscoll] is good for the community and has done a lot for the youth program here. It’s been great.”

Driscoll said he planned to repeat the camp again each year.